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Showing posts from March, 2011

Can Fundamentalism Release the Secular Impulse? Yes ...

HUMEIRA IQTIDAR Secularizing Islamists? Jama‘at-e-Islami and Jama‘at-ud-da‘wa in Urban Pakistan South Asia Across the Disciplines Series Secularizing Islamists? provides a thorough analysis of two Islamist parties in Pakistan, the highly influential Jama‘at-e-Islami and the more militant Jama‘at-ud-Da‘wa, widely blamed for the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. Basing her findings on ethnographic work with the two parties in Lahore, Humeira Iqtidar says that these Islamists are involuntarily facilitating secularization within Muslim societies, even as they vehemently oppose secularism. This book offers a fine-grained account of the workings of both parties. It challenges received ideas about the relationship between the ideology of secularism and the processes of secularization. Iqtidar illuminates the impact of women on Pakistani Islamism while arguing that these Islamist groups are inadvertently supporting secularization by forcing a critical engagement with the place of reli

In Flight Reading Material (on a Monumental Scale)

BIRDS IN BOOKS Three Hundred Years of South Asian Ornithology A Bibliography Aasheesh Pittie READ A FEATURE ON IT HERE The history of South Asian ornithology spans three centuries and records over 1200 species of birds. This is the passionate work of hundreds of amateur and professional ornithologists. The popular as well as scientific documentation of this region’s avifauna is prodigious. For the first time, this vast body of work is brought together here, in this detailed, meticulously researched, and annotated bibliography. Over 1700 books are listed, covering the ornithology of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet—a region encompassing the Oriental and Palaearctic realms. The bibliography embraces various types of work: from travelogues, field guides, species monographs, country handbooks, regional avifaunas, multi-volume ornithological works, and folios of art, to simple checklists. In addition, it provide

Great Kolkata Scholar interviewed

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO Partha Chatterjee If you exclude Nobel laureates, India's most major intellectual export to the West is arguably Partha Chatterjee. Many would say there is no need to exclude the Nobel laureates when maintaining this proposition. Kolkata rejoices in the fact that Partha Chatterjee prefers to remain very much a part-time export: he only spends about 3-4 months being professor at Columbia; the rest of the time he is mainly to be found in dhoti-kurta within his natural habitat. His devotion to Kolkata and his self-location within the city are evident from his speech at the Fukuoka Prize of 2009 ceremony in Japan, during which he speaks partly in Bengali to praise Kolkata as the city which made his kind of scholar possible. It's worth experiencing the integrity and dignity of his address at this link . Two incidental details in connection with the Fukuoka Prize: among scholars, this has only been won earlier by two Indians, Romila Thapar and Ashis Nandy (bo


KAUSHIK BASU'S book The Retreat of Democracy (permanent black paperback) comprises scintillatingly readable and unexpectedly witty essays. Economists are usually dry-as-dust scholars dabbling in statistics and equations beyond our ken. How come Kaushik Basu is quite a different sort of economist? This interview provides a picture of someone with a quite unusually wide range of interests: Q: Most topnotch economists teach economics and write mathematical economics comprehensible only to their peers. By contrast, The Retreat of Democracy , your third book of popular essays (following Economic Graffiti and Of People, Of Places ), shows literary elegance, a philosopher’s wit, and an uncommon ability to communicate economic ideas to newspaper readers, suggesting that your intellectual links are with left-leaning economic philosophers such as Sen, Keynes, and Krugman. Who do you see as your major icons? And have you consciously forged your trajectory to be much more than that of a prof

The Ugliness of the Hindu Male and Other Propositions

CHANDRIMA CHAKRABORTY Masculinity, Asceticism, Hinduism Past and Present Imaginings of India This book analyses the links between religion, masculinity, and asceticism in Indian political and cultural history. Through an examination of nationalist discourse in the writings of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Raja Rao, V.D. Savarkar, M.S. Golwalkar, and many others, Chakraborty reveals how ideas about masculinity and Hindu asceticism came to be reworked for cultural and political purposes. Over the colonial period, Indian leaders and the literati were impelled to contest colonialist views of Hindu effeminacy. In the process, asceticism became a critical site for notions of masculinity. Chakraborty also argues that the politics of the contemporary Hindu Right relies heavily on selective and manipulated images of Hindu asceticism and manliness, drawn from such writers in line with their political agenda. Inaccuracies and distortions within Hindu Right poli

PARTHA THE PROLIFIC (but can he overtake the Tambrams Sanjay Subrahmanyam and Ram Guha?)

Topnotch social scientists within South Asian Studies do not average more than three or four books over their career. Among the major exceptions are Partha Chatterjee, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, and Ram Guha. Everything Chatterjee writes makes a big impact across the disciplines. Political philosophers, social theorists, historians, and students of cultural studies all grapple with his ideas and paradigm shaking interventions. Permanent Black and Columbia University Press are jointly publishing Chatterjee's next pathbreaking exploration of his concept of "political society", a term as hotly debated as '"Subaltern Studies" two decades earlier ... PARTHA CHATTERJEE Lineages of Political Society Studies in Postcolonial Democracy In Lineages of Political Society the eminent political theorist Partha Chatterjee reveals the emergence of a new theory of postcolonial democracy. As against earlier ideas about the nature of democracy—which grew predominantly out of notions